I was leafing through one of my daughter’s fashion magazines yesterday and I came across an extraordinary article by a woman trumpeting on about what a perfectionist she was. She is such a stickler for detail, it appears, that she once ran out of an eyebrow salon with only one eyebrow plucked because she didn’t like the way the beautician had shaped it. Like that’s really going to improve your looks.
However, the author was obviously not such a perfectionist that she could see that her piece, which droned on for another whole page (wtf?) was the most self-obsessed drivel I’ve ever fallen asleep over read.
But. It got me thinking about perfectionism. And what a terrible thing it is. Perfectionists, it seems to me, worry so much about the detail, that they forget about the big picture. They’re so worried about a wrongly shaped eyebrow, they ignore the overall look.
I remember one of my children going to school with a brilliant story and coming back utterly dejected because the only comment the teacher could make about it was that the capital letters were all in the wrong place. Perfect teacher? I don’t think so.
Perfection is an impossible dream. When we plan to be perfect, it generally all comes apart at the seams. And if we place too much importance on perfection, we miss the little unplanned things that make life so sweet.
Perfectionism is a pain in any walk of life, but it absolutely kills creativity. Nothing is worse, when you’re in full flow, than to feel that you’ve got to stop and alter what you’ve already written, because it doesn’t read quite right. Or there’s a spelling mistake, or….whatever.
That’s why free-writing is such a brilliant idea. It means that you can just get your stuff down on paper and forget about form and structure. New ideas and phrases just appear, and you’re amazed how they got there. And when it’s all over, and your creativity has run into a wall, then is the time to go back and fossick about with the they’res and theirs and there theres.
Having said that, I did find myself self-correcting all the way through this piece. Not that I’m a perfectionist or anything…
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